The Lass Word: Accomplished DCs Are Out There

Should Packers be taking note?

Surveying the landscape: 

 

It’s going to be a great offseason for teams in search of a defensive coordinator.  Three of the best are currently available.  The Packers are very familiar with two of them. 

 

Mike Zimmer has been designing defenses against Green Bay for eight years as head coach of the Vikings, and he’s done it pretty well.  Prior to that, Zimmer earned a reputation as one of the top DCs in the NFL at Dallas, Atlanta and Cincinnati. 

 

Vic Fangio was cut loose as head coach of the Broncos.  Fangio spent four seasons making life challenging for the Packers as DC for the Bears from 2015 through the 2018 season.  Prior to that he excelled coaching defense for the Saints, Panthers and Colts.  

 

Then there is Brian Flores, whom the Dolphins fired as head coach.  Flores was a key part of the top notch defenses of the New England Patriots during their dynasty run, though he was never officially named coordinator. 

 

Would the Packers be interested in any of them?  Should they be? Under first year DC Joe Barry, Green Bay’s defense has improved overall.  The unit is hovering around the top ten in all of the major categories.  It is ninth in total yards, tenth in pass yards, eleventh in rush yards, sixth in interceptions, eighth in turnovers and fifteenth in sacks.  But there has been a clear regression since a week ten shutout against the Seahawks.  In the Packers’ last seven games, the defense has given up an average of over 27 points per contest.  This, against quarterbacks like Justin fields, Tyler Huntley, Baker Mayfield, Sean Mannion and Jared Goff.  The return of Jaire Alexander, Za’darius Smith, and now linebacker Whitney Mercilus gives the unit a huge boost for the post season.  It also removes any excuses.  If the defense fails miserably in the playoffs, would the Packers contemplate a change?    

 

There are, of course, other factors.  Would Zimmer, Fangio or Flores coach the “Rams defense” that Matt LaFleur wants his team to play?  Do any of the three actually want to go back to being an assistant?   Flores, in particular, is thought to be a candidate for another head coach position.  I would be excited about any of the trio, but Joe Barry has probably earned at least another year in Green Bay.  The timing for a change is wrong.  

 

►  While we’re on the subject, how about fired New York Giants coach Joe Judge for special teams?  He held that position for the Patriots for eight seasons with much success.  LaFleur likes Mo Drayton and always makes it a point to praise him publicly.  But Green Bay’s kick and return units have been mediocre at best, downright disastrous at times.  

 

►  If the MVP race is truly down to Aaron Rodgers versus Tom Brady, it’s no contest.  Putting the two side-by-side is revealing.  Both led their teams to 13-4 records.  But Rodgers is 13-2 in games he started and finished.  Brady has more passing yards and passing touchdowns.  But he also threw the ball a whopping 719 times, compared to Rodgers’ 531.  Rodgers has a better completion percentage, averages more yards per completion, far fewer interceptions (4 compared to 12), and a higher QB rating (111.9 to 102.1).  If the voters stick to judging by what happened on the field, QB12 is clearly the better choice. 

 

►  This will be an awesome weekend of watching playoff football.  The three NFC wild card teams may be the strongest wild cards in league history.  The Cardinals, 49ers and Eagles all have a solid chance of upsetting their higher ranked opponents.  I actually think the Niners will beat the Cowboys.  Arizona is at least even money to handle the inconsistent Rams.  And don’t sleep on Philadelphia.  They are sneaky good.  Brady and the Bucs will have their hands full, especially with the injuries Tampa Bay is dealing with.  Which team emerges to play the Packers is going to be fascinating. 

 

 

 

-----------------------------------

Ken Lass is a former Green Bay television sports anchor and 43 year media veteran, a lifelong Packers fan, and a shareholder.

NFL Categories: 
10 points

Comments (64)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
jlc1's picture

January 13, 2022 at 03:12 pm

As Brady wears 12 as well it is safe to say QB12 will win :)

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Leatherhead's picture

January 13, 2022 at 03:29 pm

719 passes is quite a few. Too many, IMO. But that's what Tampa has been all season, except now they've lost some of their main pieces of that passing attack.

I don't know why any DC would want this job, since so many fans will start screaming the first time an opponent gets a first down.. But seriously, none of those guys. Zimmer has the Purple Taint and there's no cure for that. Don't let it in the building. Fangio is yesterday, and Brian Flores is the name of a former student who committed a double murder.

Whoever comes in could have the most talented defense we've had since Lombardi Era, seriously. The guys that we have under contract for next year are pretty good players. Clark, Lowry, Keke, Slaton, Gary, Smith, Barnes, Stokes, Amos, Savage. Most of those guys are bargains. And we can resign Alexander and Douglas and even Campbell. We could add some help in the draft. That would be a pretty good group, IMO.

4 points
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flackcatcher's picture

January 14, 2022 at 01:38 pm

A million upvotes for the "Purple Taint" alone. And even Fangio doesn't run his own scheme. Pretty much impossible to get direct pressure from the DL at the snap in today's league. Hmm... Should we call Brian Flores 'little hoodie'. Bottom line, if your defense holds a offense under three scores, then as a DC you have done a damn fine job. Too bad so few folks on this blog can't see that...

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Lphill's picture

January 13, 2022 at 03:53 pm

Flores, Fangio and Zimmer would all be an upgrade over Barry.

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Coldworld's picture

January 13, 2022 at 04:24 pm

Maybe, but by the time we are in the market we will know for sure and all of them that want it likely have a position. Flores will almost certainly be a Head Coach.

Unless there is a melt down, Barry almost certainly gets a second year. Now Joe Judge for STs, yes!!! Open our wallet and go get him if he is still available.

5 points
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13TimeChamps's picture

January 13, 2022 at 04:24 pm

Regardless of which of those 3 would be hired, you'd want them fired by mid-season.

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dobber's picture

January 13, 2022 at 04:40 pm

Why would he wait THAT long?

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13TimeChamps's picture

January 13, 2022 at 04:51 pm

Touché.

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Lphill's picture

January 13, 2022 at 06:34 pm

I never called for a coach to be fired except Drayton , lets hope special teams doesn't end the Packers season but then again there's always that participation trophy , right?

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Turophile's picture

January 14, 2022 at 04:01 pm

Lphill. Don't make it sound like a team reaching post-season is a nothing. It's disrespectful to teams that have played hard all year and overcome misfortune well enough to qualify.

You've gotten complacent after two btb HOF QBs.

I would be interested in checking out ex head coach Judge as ST coordinator, they do need a better one. Apart from ST the only replacements the Packers are likely to need are losses due to the promotion of their coaches to other teams.

4 points
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Lphill's picture

January 13, 2022 at 06:29 pm

13timesachump you just can’t help yourself, I never called for a coach to be fired except Drayton like everyone else here , you are the only one who enjoys participation trophies for making it to the playoffs , right?

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dobber's picture

January 13, 2022 at 06:45 pm

"you are the only one who enjoys participation trophies for making it to the playoffs"

Looks like someone got a new drum to beat for Christmas...

3 points
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13TimeChamps's picture

January 13, 2022 at 06:46 pm

Ah, the old, tired "participation trophy" argument and juvenile name calling. That's the best you got? I wonder where you got the "you just can't help yourself" comment. Think of that all by yourself? Lol

I guess that was a different Lphill that called for Pettine to be fired ad nauseam and posted that Gute was "in over his head" as a GM because he didn't mortgage the team's future by not signing K. Mack. Remind me again....how did that work out for Chicago?

5 points
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Qoojo's picture

January 13, 2022 at 03:54 pm

I wouldn't mind AR losing the MVP to Brady, just to give AR a bigger chip on his shoulder.

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Johnblood27's picture

January 13, 2022 at 08:02 pm

To motivate the Broncos?

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Qoojo's picture

January 14, 2022 at 12:11 am

Nope. To motivate him. AR performs better when he thinks he has been slighted.

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splitpea1's picture

January 13, 2022 at 04:10 pm

I think MLF keeps Barry almost no matter what, unless like you said, the defense completely falls apart because Barry stubbornly insists on a Pettine-like approach.

Special teams is another story. You would think a change is in order, both with the players and the approach. It's more than just the coach here. We need to find the right players instead of trying to hammer square pegs in round holes. There might be a new kicker as well. So it's anybody's guess what they'll do here, but whatever it is, it's definitely time to look outside of the home confines and bring in a fresh set of ideas.

15 points
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pacman's picture

January 13, 2022 at 05:07 pm

I think these 2 are a given - unless ST makes some astounding improvement in the playoffs or as you said, the D does something REALLY stupid.

The bigger question is replacing all the assistant coaches who will get pulled away.

3 points
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splitpea1's picture

January 13, 2022 at 05:34 pm

Getsy in particular.

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packer132's picture

January 13, 2022 at 06:24 pm

I doubt if Packers lose more than one assistant coach (Hackett). Getsy is only 37 and has just one NFL team on his resume. Special teams coach is where I want to see a change, as does every Packer fan.

5 points
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Lphill's picture

January 13, 2022 at 06:36 pm

Yes except 13timesachump he would never cast doubt on a Packers coach.

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13TimeChamps's picture

January 13, 2022 at 07:56 pm

Call me crazy, but I put more stock into what the front office of one of the most successful franchises in NFL history, including the current one, decides to do with their coaching staff over some whiny fan who thinks he knows more than them.

But you keep being you. How much did you pay again for that incredibly sad pre-recorded birthday message you paid for Brett Favre to wish you Happy Birthday? Who the hell pays for a celebrity who doesn't even know you to wish you a Happy Birthday?

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Crankbait's picture

January 14, 2022 at 12:45 am

One of the most successful franchises in NFL history has been ignorant about defense for two decades so there's that.
Joe Barry is getting all his starters back.... how far we go in the playoffs depends on him. this is his career defining season.
I am cautiously optimistic.

2 points
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dobber's picture

January 13, 2022 at 06:38 pm

If Hackett gets hired away, the question is: does he try to take others with him?

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Coldworld's picture

January 13, 2022 at 06:45 pm

I would think Getsky would be looked at. We may have to fight to keep Stenavich. Is he OC material or a position coach type? If he’s got potential, good chance he gets the OC role here.

2 points
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dobber's picture

January 13, 2022 at 06:52 pm

My thinking was that Getsy might actually be the next OC but that Stenavich might get a promotion to Associate Head Coach to make him harder to hire away...

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Coldworld's picture

January 13, 2022 at 07:18 pm

I don’t know enough of their characters to really guess. Getsky’s job is a common springboard to OC, but Stenavich has more experience. It’s all a question of personalities and skill sets as well as acumen.

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croatpackfan's picture

January 14, 2022 at 10:23 am

Well if AR still consider trade, that Broncos is highly candidate to seriously take in consideration to hire Getsy as HC. I believe that if Getsy do not ruin his chances at the interview badly, he will be hired by Broncos and they will trade for Aaron Rodgers. This may be AR request to become Broncos.

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Coldworld's picture

January 14, 2022 at 11:28 am

Getsky to HC would be a huge promotion for a guy who has not been an OC or called plays in anger. Who knows, but that’s a huge gamble. Honestly, be very difficult for him to coach Rodgers meaningfully with that kind of positioning.

2 points
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croatpackfan's picture

January 15, 2022 at 11:55 am

You are right, but than AR will finally get additional responsibilities, sorry, sorry not responsability, influence is the righ word. Is that what he want here at Packers?

Think little more about. He will be first QB in modern football era (lets say SC era) that will call his plays from scrimmage. And he would love it!

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jurp's picture

January 14, 2022 at 11:48 am

If not HC, then possibly OC under a coach whom AR knows - maybe Hackett? Pure speculation on my part, based on zero analysis.

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Johnblood27's picture

January 13, 2022 at 08:04 pm

cut his nutz off on his way out the door.

1 points
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marpag1's picture

January 13, 2022 at 04:21 pm

I vote that we win the Lombardi first, and daydream about next year's defensive coordinator after that.

25 points
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NickPerry's picture

January 14, 2022 at 06:01 am

Well said marpag...Well said.

2 points
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PewAuKeeFan's picture

January 13, 2022 at 06:22 pm

"If the voters stick to judging by what happened on the field, QB12 is clearly the better choice. "

Don't you mean "AR12 is clearly the better choice"? Both QBs sport the number 12.

3 points
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Lphill's picture

January 13, 2022 at 06:31 pm

So many NFL executives here , just amazing.

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dobber's picture

January 13, 2022 at 06:41 pm

Hello, pot? This is kettle. You're black...

2 points
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13TimeChamps's picture

January 13, 2022 at 07:34 pm

This (Lphill) "fan" has criticized so many FO moves...(Why can other teams figure out the Cap, but not GB) EVERY time a Free agent becomes available, regardless of even having a modicum of salary cap awareness. Typical fantasy fan. But he's mocking other "NFL executives" on this site.

Yes....kettle meet pot indeed. Perfect description.

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Johnblood27's picture

January 13, 2022 at 08:05 pm

...and... black kettles matter...

3 points
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Coldworld's picture

January 13, 2022 at 06:50 pm

Lol, what’s the point of this site if not to play armchair GM and Head Coach?

9 points
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Lphill's picture

January 13, 2022 at 07:10 pm

You are correct except like 3 people here think only their opinions count , typical cancel culture .

-3 points
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Johnblood27's picture

January 13, 2022 at 08:06 pm

nobody hears you...

LOL!!!

0 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

January 13, 2022 at 10:51 pm

What Culture?

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egbertsouse's picture

January 14, 2022 at 08:16 am

The words “cancel culture” have now made my Shovel List. That means the next person that says it in my presence gets hit in the face with a shovel. It has bumped the phrase “You’re good to go” which, thankfully, has gone out of use. Of course, I am referring to a virtual shovel since we have a zero tolerance for violence in here. Zero tolerance? Damn! That’s on the list too!

6 points
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Starrbrite's picture

January 13, 2022 at 08:46 pm

That’s right coldworld. I can pretend I know something here. I have a briefcase too.

6 points
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gpt999's picture

January 13, 2022 at 06:47 pm

On "paper", all three of these DCs look like a better choice than Barry. And while I was skeptical of Barry initially, it seemed as though he took his passive criticism to heart and started to play more aggressive schemes in mid season. Right now, he is regressing again to Passive Pettine.

This is a team with arguably the best QB in the league. To play passive, prevent style football that minimizes the number of possessions the offense gets does not make any sense. Pressure teams. If they score the odd time from excess pressure, so be it.

I think the playoffs should tell us if Barry is truly a good DC for this team. If he plays passive and the defense is porous, then its time to think about another DC in the offseason. The same shouldn't apply to Special Teams. They badly need a new coordinator. The numbers don't lie...

11 points
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PhantomII's picture

January 14, 2022 at 04:12 pm

Passive- aggressive people have issues.

0 points
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relleum61's picture

January 13, 2022 at 07:09 pm

My thoughts are in no particular order of importance...or even related, but if the Packers win the Lombardi, Barry is returning. 2) Is not the "Ram" defense the Fangio defense? I thought MLF brought in Barry to replicate what other DC's had done with the Rams and what those DC's brought to the table were variations of the Fangio defense. That said, I've envisioned Fangio as our DC for a long time. I wanted him when he left the 49ers. 3) I would review the staffs of all the teams who were fired and compare/contrast those ST coordinators with Drayton. Sign Judge if you can get him... or the best of the rest. Any would be an upgrade. 4) An MVP award is a nice honor. When was the last time that the MVP won the SB? It has been a while. I would happily sacrifice the MVP to the football gods for the Lombardi!

6 points
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Starrbrite's picture

January 13, 2022 at 08:47 pm

Completely agree!!!

0 points
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croatpackfan's picture

January 14, 2022 at 10:28 am

Well, we might offered Vic Fangio DC job in the past. We do not know is that happened. Lets say Packers did and he decline offer. How you will force him to accept offer than?

-3 points
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mbpacker's picture

January 13, 2022 at 08:00 pm

LaFluer goes big on character and fit. Zimmer and Fangio are experienced, but not sure they would be compatible with LaFluer , espcially Zimmer who is a bit crusty and gruff. Lots of other variables to consider that readers have already mentioned.

5 points
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jurp's picture

January 14, 2022 at 11:51 am

I can't see a coach who reportedly "rules by fear" being in any way compatible with MLF; Zimmer would be a hard pass for me.

-1 points
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BAMABADGER's picture

January 13, 2022 at 08:12 pm

Hire ST coach Joe Judge immediately before he is gobbled up. If we don't win the SB due to poor defensive play, go after Fangio, Flores or Zimmer.

0 points
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LeotisHarris's picture

January 13, 2022 at 08:20 pm

No on those DC candidates for all of the previously stated reasons. I think Zimmer needs a good long rest, and talk coming out of Minnesota from players reflects a toxic culture with him at the helm. The man is fried.

MVP? Sweet baby jeebus, I have no clue how best to make that call. MVP Voters, with the exception of Hub What's-his-name, are to focus on what happened on the field. I don't pay much attention to individual stats, but when Ken mentioned the Brady vs Rodgers on-paper battle I slid on over to NFL.com to find QB stats. Go take a look. You'll see that with the exception of QB Rating (where AR hammers everyone), Kirk Freaking-It's-Not-My-Job-To-Be-A-Leader Cousins has stats most similar to those of Aaron Rodgers. Barf. It's so much more than stats.

Marpag nailed it. Let's go win it all first.

4 points
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Starrbrite's picture

January 13, 2022 at 08:50 pm

Great post Leotis.

-1 points
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Crankbait's picture

January 14, 2022 at 12:37 am

How far the Packers get in the playoffs now rests on the shoulders of Joe Barry.
We are getting everyone back on defense for this run and I pray he's up to this task.
No excuses, the Lombardi trophy is there for the taking .

3 points
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Oppy's picture

January 14, 2022 at 02:16 am

So what you're saying is that during the regular season, we win because of Aaron Rodgers, but during the post season, we can't win because of the defense?

6 points
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Gee's picture

January 14, 2022 at 06:31 am

Hmm I think we can all agree, for the packers to win, they need balance on offence. No hero ball, but when the defense is allowing over 25 points per game average in the playoffs, for most of the past decade, it puts that offensive balance out of wack. Rodgers has played role in those losses, especially the NFC Championships, where he has thrown 5-6 picks in the past 4 of them. So it's both really, if the defense can;t get off the field, it forces the offensive hand.

2 points
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dobber's picture

January 14, 2022 at 08:55 am

"So it's both really, if the defense can;t get off the field, it forces the offensive hand."

Sometimes you need a hero...

2 points
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PatrickGB's picture

January 14, 2022 at 10:02 am

There are great X’s and O’s coaches out there. Yet Matt likes his coaches to be relatable. He likes the chemistry that we have. The only coach that I expect to be replaced is the one who moves on.

2 points
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Coldworld's picture

January 14, 2022 at 11:35 am

I really will find it hard to justify retention of Drayton. Camaraderie is wonderful but it’s pretty clear that Drayton is not NFL caliber. Winning coaches don’t tolerate weak links of that magnitude on coaching staffs.

6 points
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flackcatcher's picture

January 14, 2022 at 01:24 pm

ST has been a problem across two HC now. This is a long standing issue that Gute must address. Defense in the NFL is all reactive. With the rule changes in pass interference and protection, there is very little chance to be aggressive at the LOS. (Why do you think Rodgers and Brady are still playing) Every team is playing some kind of Pettine scheme in their defensive systems. The league rules and game officials dictate it. All for 'better' (read high scoring) football. I'm tired of the bitching about this defense. Want better defensive football, then call Rodger Goodell. (Good luck with that) Mike Pettine is highly respected as a first rate DC. His ability to shut down teams in the second half with adjustments is well known and respected inside the NFL. Joe Berry has done a heck of job walking into a messy situation not of his making. Barry's problem is his inability to make in-game adjustments, that's what has kept him from being in the first rank of DC. (A issue that the current HC of the Packers share) But, Joe Barry has had this defense ready to play most of the season, and in a 17 game season, that is impressive. But he is a clear step down from his predecessor, and like ST, GM Gute will have to address the situation.

1 points
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CoachDino's picture

January 15, 2022 at 01:23 am

duplicate

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CoachDino's picture

January 14, 2022 at 05:35 pm

DC Topic - Isn't the new fad style of Defense come from Vic fangio coaching origins? Its what is at the core of today's hottest defenses. Heck just look at Denver and what they excelled at vs what cost him the job. IMO it comes down to what MLF is comfortable with. His guys or older established DC's that have been Head coaches. VF is a steal if the research/homework/due diligence on him all pans out.

I'm not down on JBarry but I didn't see any big scheme changes as much as strategy changes. MP played behind an explosive scoring offense and was tasked with running out the clock, while JB needed to have a more aggressive Defensive strategy to just stay in games. The Packers defense down the stretch last year was good enough to win a superbowl less Kevin King.

The argument is so much JB is bad as much as its how much better are they with VF, MF or DZ. If the Packers and AR part defense is going to be that much more important and the 35MUSD in savings between QBs should supply any additional talent needed.

(resign Campbell and AMos find a top flight slot/box safety/corner hybrid to cover TE. RBs and wr.)

When it comes to MVP if between Brady and AR an argument can be made that Brady threw for substantially more yards and TD because they depended on him more or should I say the "pass". AR had a more balanced Offense with 2 1000yd total offense RB.

The vast majority of AR TDFs were goal line / inside the 5 yard line. not explosive plays like Brady. (IT is a pet peeve of mine how AR always chooses to pass instead of run inside the 5, especially on early downs. Seemed to change a bit toward the end.)

Both teams go nowhere w/o the QB, both are deserving.

2 points
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